CURRENT AFFAIRS – 19/08/2023

CURRENT AFFAIRS – 19/08/2023

CURRENT AFFAIRS – 19/08/2023

CURRENT AFFAIRS – 19/08/2023

Bihar caste survey- No stay by Supreme Court

(General Studies- Paper II and III)

No SC stay on publication of Bihar caste survey data

No SC stay on Bihar caste survey publicationSource : TH

The Supreme Court declined to halt the uploading of data from the Bihar caste-based survey, rejecting claims that it violated the right to privacy by requiring individuals to disclose their caste.

  • Justice Sanjiv Khanna remarked that the privacy right isn’t affected when asking for caste information since individual data isn’t made public; only cumulative figures are released.

Key Highlights

  • Senior advocate C.S. Vaidyanathan, representing NGO Youth for Equality, argued against compelling people to reveal their caste, stating that caste, religion, and personal income were among the questions asked in the survey.
  • Justice Khanna questioned the notion of compulsion, pointing out that no penalty is imposed if someone chooses not to fill out the caste information.
  • The survey was initiated through an executive order on June 6, 2022; Vaidyanathan argued that a fundamental right like privacy should have statutory backing and not be governed solely by an administrative order.
  • Senior advocate Shyam Divan, representing the Bihar government, defended the survey, asserting that it was a social survey to inform the state’s welfare measures and individual data would be protected.
  • The Patna High Court had previously upheld the legality of the survey on August 1.
  • Petitioners contended that Bihar lacked authority to conduct the survey, which they saw as encroaching on the central government’s powers, arguing that only the Union had the authority to conduct a census in India.
  • They claimed that the survey violated Schedule VII of the Constitution, the Census Act of 1948, and the Census Rules of 1990, alleging that the survey notification from June 2022 was beyond the powers of relevant sections and rules.
  • The Supreme Court declined to issue a stay on uploading the survey data, stating that the State had a High Court judgment in its favour, the exercise was complete, and the data would be made public.

Schedule VII of the Indian Constitution

  • Schedule VII of the Indian Constitution lists three important legislative lists that distribute the powers of law-making between the central government (Union) and the state governments.
  • These lists are known as the Union List, State List, and Concurrent List.
  • Each list contains subjects on which the respective governments have the authority to legislate.
  • Union List:
    • This list contains subjects on which only the central government (Union) has the exclusive authority to make laws.
    • These subjects are of national importance, and the central government’s laws prevail over any conflicting state laws.
    • For example, defense, foreign affairs, currency, and atomic energy fall under the Union List.
  • State List:
    • The State List enumerates subjects on which only the state governments have the exclusive authority to make laws.
    • These subjects typically relate to matters of local importance and are relevant to the functioning of individual states.
    • Examples include police, public health, and agriculture.
  • Concurrent List:
    • The Concurrent List includes subjects on which both the central government and state governments can legislate.
    • However, in case of a conflict between central and state laws on a concurrent subject, the central law prevails.
    • Some subjects in the Concurrent List are education, marriage, bankruptcy, and bankruptcy and insolvency.
  • Some associated Articles:
    • Article 245: It provides for the extent of laws made by Parliament and by the legislatures of states.
      • It states that the laws made by Parliament are applicable to the whole of India, while laws made by state legislatures are applicable only within their respective states.
    • Article 246:
      • This article deals with the subject matter of laws made by Parliament and state legislatures.
      • It establishes three legislative lists: the Union List, the State List, and the Concurrent List.
      • The distribution of subjects between these lists is the basis for the division of legislative powers.
    • Article 248:
      • It grants the Parliament the power to make laws on any matter in the State List for two specific reasons: for the implementation of treaties and agreements, and for implementing decisions at international conferences, institutions, and bodies.
    • Article 249:
      • This article allows Parliament to legislate on a matter in the State List if it deems it necessary in the national interest, by a two-thirds majority.
    • Article 250:
      • In case of a proclamation of Emergency, Parliament can make laws on any matter, even if it falls within the State List.
    • Article 251:
      • If two or more states pass resolutions requesting Parliament to legislate on a matter in the State List, and if Parliament deems it necessary, it can make laws on that matter applicable to those states.
    • Article 252:
      • When the legislatures of two or more states pass resolutions requesting Parliament to legislate on a matter in the State List, Parliament can delegate its legislative powers to those states to make laws on that matter.
    • Article 253:
      • Parliament has the power to legislate on matters related to implementing international agreements, even if they are in the State List.
    • Article 254:
      • In case of inconsistency between a central law and a state law on a matter in the Concurrent List, the central law prevails, but if the state law has received the President’s assent, it can apply in that state.

Material consideration: On the LK-99 ‘superconductor’ episode

(General Studies- Paper III)

Material consideration

Source : TH

The material known as LK-99, initially claimed by South Korean researchers to be a room-temperature and ambient-pressure superconductor, has been confirmed by the scientific community as not meeting those criteria.

  • Despite no formal conclusion matching the initial announcement, both the South Korean researchers and independent scientists published their findings as freely accessible preprint papers.

Key Highlights

  • LK-99’s simple composition and available synthesis instructions led scientists outside academia, including those in India, to test the material and verify the initial claim.
  • Initially, there was a rapid pace of developments, but it soon led to hype and misinformation surrounding the material’s properties.
  • Two main reasons emerged to debunk LK-99’s superconductivity claim:
    • Conventional superconductors expel a weak magnetic field when cooled to their superconducting state, pushing away nearby magnets.
      • The South Korean group shared a video showing LK-99 half-repelling a magnet, but independent researchers found the material to be an insulator with magnetizable impurities, explaining the observed half-repulsion.
    • The South Koreans reported a sharp electrical resistivity drop around 104°C, indicative of superconductivity.
      • However, scientists found this drop correlated with copper sulfide impurities, which undergo a phase transition at that temperature, affecting resistivity measurements.
    • The burden of proof now rests on the South Korean group to provide further evidence to support their initial claim.
    • The episode highlighted the benefits of near-real-time and crowd-organized documentation and collaboration through open science, which led to the swift closure of the matter.
    • Engaging in open science can lead to better scientific outcomes but also presents challenges due to potential misunderstanding and confusion.

What is Superconductivity?

  • Superconductivity refers to the ability of certain materials to conduct electric current without any resistance when cooled to very low temperatures.
  • It was first observed in 1911 by Dutch physicist H. K. Onnes using elemental mercury at extremely low temperatures.
  • Difference from Conductors:
    • Conductors allow electric current to flow with minimal resistance but do not completely eliminate resistance.
    • Superconductors eliminate all resistance, making them capable of conducting electric current with no energy loss.
    • Superconductors require supercooling to extremely low temperatures to achieve this state.
  • Properties and Behavior:
    • Superconductors exhibit zero electrical resistance and generate a magnetic field when subjected to an external magnetic field.
    • The absence of resistance allows electric currents to flow indefinitely without energy loss.
    • Transition to the superconducting state occurs at the material’s critical temperature, which varies for different materials.

In Image: Meissner Effect

Applications:Superconductors have various applications, such as:

    • High-speed magnetic-levitation trains (maglev trains).
    • Medical devices like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines.
    • Ultra-high-speed computer chips and digital memory.
    • Energy storage systems and alternative energy applications.
    • Sensitive detectors for visible light and infrared radiation.
    • Communication devices like wireless antennas.
    • Submarine and underwater mine detection systems.
    • Satellite gyroscopes for accurate orientation.

What is Meissner Effect?

  • When a superconductor is cooled below its critical temperature and a magnetic field is applied, the magnetic field lines are expelled from the interior of the material.
  • This expulsion leads to the creation of a region within the material that is devoid of magnetic flux.
  • The Meissner effect causes the superconductor to become a perfect diamagnet, meaning it actively opposes the external magnetic field.
  • This repulsion results in the material being levitated above a magnet or exhibiting behaviors like the suspension of a magnet in mid-air above the superconductor.

Moody’s bullish on growth, flags sectarian tension

(General Studies- Paper III)

Source : The Indian Express

Moody’s Investors Service has affirmed India’s sovereign rating at ‘Baa3’ with a stable outlook.

  • However, Moody’s also highlights concerns about political risk and the quality of institutions due to the curtailment of civil society, political dissent, and rising sectarian tensions.

Key Highlights

  • Moody’s predicts that India’s economic growth will surpass all other G20 economies for at least the next two years.
  • Moody’s acknowledges the NDA government’s management of fiscal situation, infrastructure development, and digital public infrastructure implementation.
  • The agency emphasizes India’s rapid economic growth, leading to rising income levels and overall economic resilience, despite a decrease in potential growth in the past decade.
  • Moody’s projects India’s GDP growth at 6.5% in fiscal 2024 as per the RBI’s projections.
  • While praising macro policy effectiveness, Moody’s expresses concerns about weakening institutions and increasing political tensions.
  • Instances of unrest in certain states, such as Manipur, and periodic border tensions with neighbouring countries contribute to political risk.
  • Moody’s notes that India’s emphasis on infrastructure development has led to improvements in logistics, trade, and transport-related infrastructure.
  • The implementation of digital public infrastructure has improved public service delivery, formalized the economy, and broadened the tax base.
  • The banking system’s financial soundness over the past three years has allowed the private sector to leverage domestic sentiment and channel funding for capital formation.
  • Moody’s recognizes the government’s strong capital expenditure push and fiscal consolidation efforts.
  • Despite some spending pressures to cope with inflation, the government has met fiscal deficit targets aided by buoyant tax revenue.
  • Moody’s views India’s commitment to inflation targeting, post-pandemic growth prospects, and financial system rehabilitation as strengthening monetary and macro policy effectiveness.
  • The ‘Baa3’ rating signifies moderate credit risk, with Baa3 being the lowest investment-grade rating according to Moody’s scale.
  • In 2017, Moody’s upgraded India’s sovereign rating to ‘Baa2’, the first such upgrade since 2004, but downgraded it to ‘Baa3’ in 2020.

India’s first 3D-printed post office

(General Studies- Paper III)

Source : The Indian Express

Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw inaugurated India’s first 3D-printed post office located in Bengaluru’s Cambridge Layout.

  • The post office was virtually inaugurated from the General Post Office building.
  • The construction of the post office was completed in just 43 days, two days ahead of schedule.
  • Larsen & Toubro Limited carried out the construction with technological support from IIT Madras, guided by Professor Manu Santhanam.

What is 3D Printing?

  • 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is a revolutionary technology that involves creating three-dimensional objects layer by layer, directly from a digital model or design.
  • Unlike traditional manufacturing methods that involve subtracting material through cutting or machining, 3D printing builds objects layer upon layer using materials like plastics, metals, ceramics, and even organic compounds.
  • 3D printing process:
    • Design: A 3D model of the object is created using computer-aided design (CAD) software.
    • Slicing: The digital model is sliced into thin horizontal layers using specialized software.
    • Printing: The 3D printer reads the sliced design and begins the printing process.
      • The printer adds material layer by layer, following the pattern specified in the digital model.
    • Layering: The printer applies the chosen material, often in liquid or powdered form, to create each layer.
      • The material solidifies or fuses together, forming a cohesive object.
    • Building Up: As each layer is added, the object gradually takes shape, building up from the bottom layer to the top layer.
    • Completion: Once the printing process is complete, the object is allowed to cool or cure, depending on the material used.

The advantages of 3D printing include:

    • Complex Geometries: 3D printing allows for the creation of intricate and complex shapes that may be difficult or impossible to achieve with traditional manufacturing methods.
    • Customization: Each printed object can be customized individually without incurring additional costs or setup times.
    • Reduced Waste: 3D printing is an additive process, which means material wastage is minimized compared to subtractive methods.
    • Rapid Prototyping: 3D printing is widely used for creating prototypes and models for testing and validation.
    • On-Demand Production: Objects can be printed on demand, reducing the need for large inventories and storage space.
    • Reduced Tooling Costs: Traditional manufacturing often requires expensive molds, dies, and tooling, whereas 3D printing doesn’t require these components.
    • Creative Freedom: Designers have greater creative freedom due to the flexibility of 3D printing in producing intricate and unique designs.
    • Innovative Applications: 3D printing is used in various industries, including aerospace, healthcare, automotive, fashion, architecture, and more.

Centre’s proposed Criminal Code: The Custody Question

(General Studies- Paper II)

Source : The Indian Express

On August 11, the central government introduced three reform Bills in the Lok Sabha to overhaul criminal law.

  • The bills are: Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 (Indian Justice Code), BharatiyaNagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023 (Indian Citizen’s Protection Code), and BharatiyaSakshya Bill, 2023 (Indian Evidence Bill).
  • These bills aim to replace the existing Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure, and Indian Evidence Act.
  • The bills have been referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee for review and recommendations.

Focus on Indian Citizen’s Protection Code

  • A more detailed focus has been placed on BharatiyaNagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023, which seeks to replace the Code of Criminal Procedure, and its implications for citizens’ protection.
  • It highlights the importance of the Code of Criminal Procedure in protecting individuals during detention, questioning, and legal processes.
  • Significance of Protection Code
    • The Protection Code is particularly important when individuals are detained, questioned, and surrounded by police officers.
    • It protects rights, limits detention periods, and enables access to legal representation for bail and challenging charges.
  • Technological Innovations and Reforms
    • There are certain technological reforms drawn from everyday life, such as digitized record-keeping from FIR to judgment.
    • Mandatory video recording during searches and seizures is also introduced to prevent evidence planting and support defense arguments.
  • Key Reforms in Protection Code:
    • Zero FIR Registration: A complaint received in one jurisdiction regarding an offense in another jurisdiction can be registered as a “zero FIR” and transferred for investigation.
    • Forensic Expert’s Role: A forensic expert must visit crime scenes and gather evidence for offenses punishable by at least seven years of imprisonment.
    • Electronic Trial Proceedings: The Protection Code allows electronic or online trial proceedings, including evidence examination, enhancing convenience for accused and witnesses.
    • Sanction for Prosecution: The government must decide on granting or rejecting sanction to prosecute a public servant within 120 days; otherwise, it is deemed accorded.
    • Permission for Arrest: No person can be arrested for offenses punishable with less than three years of imprisonment (if accused is above 60) without permission from an officer of Deputy Superintendent of Police rank.

Areas of Concern

  • Trial in Absentia: The Protection Code allows trial in absentia if the judge deems personal attendance unnecessary for justice or if the accused disrupts proceedings.
    • The broad discretion of judges could lead to abuse.
  • Extended Police Custody: The most concerning aspect is the authorization for police custody detention up to 90 days (for severe offenses), beyond the current 15-day limit.
  • Constitutional Burden: Extended police custody can infringe on accused individuals’ rights, including life, health, and fair trial.


  • The Protection Code introduces several positive reforms but raises concerns about extended police custody.
  • It has been emphasizes that prolonged detention contradicts the purpose of the code’s reforms and calls for a fresh consideration by the parliamentary committee.

India’s Chandrayaan-3 and Russia’s Luna 25

(General Studies- Paper III)

Source : The Indian Express

India’s Chandrayaan-3 and Russia’s Luna 25 are currently in lunar orbit and are preparing for landings on the Moon.

  • Luna 25 is scheduled to land on August 21, while Chandrayaan-3 is expected to land two days later, on August 23.
  • Both missions are targeting a region near the South Pole of the Moon, where no spacecraft has previously landed.
  • China is the only country besides the Soviet Union to achieve a successful spacecraft landing on the Moon, with Chang’e 3 and Chang’e 4 missions in 2013 and 2018 respectively.
  • India and Russia are attempting their first soft landings on the Moon, aiming to achieve a significant milestone in lunar exploration.

The landing time of the two Spacecrafts

  • Travel Time to Lunar Orbit: Luna 25 reached lunar orbit in just six days after its launch on August 10, thanks to its powerful rocket.
    • In contrast, Chandrayaan-3 took 23 days to reach lunar orbit after its launch on July 14, as ISRO does not have a rocket powerful enough for direct lunar orbit insertion.
  • Lunar Day and Night: The Moon experiences a lunar day and night cycle, with each lunar day lasting about 14 Earth days.
    • During the day, the Moon receives sunlight, while nights are extremely cold, with temperatures dropping well below minus 100 degrees Celsius.
  • Instrument Lifespan:
    • Chandrayaan-3’s instruments are solar-powered and have a lifespan of one lunar day (about 14 Earth days). They require sunlight to operate.
    • In contrast, Luna 25 has instruments that can operate for a year and is equipped with an on-board generator to provide power and heat during the lunar night.
  • Optimal Observation Time:
    • Chandrayaan-3 aims to maximize the time for observations and experiments.
    • To achieve this, it is crucial for the spacecraft to land at the beginning of the lunar day, which starts on August 23.
    • Landing early in the lunar day allows the instruments to gather data for the maximum duration possible.
  • Constraints for Landing:
    • Chandrayaan-3 has a specific window for landing due to its solar-powered instruments’ requirements.
    • It cannot land before August 23, as it needs sunlight for operation.
    • If the landing cannot be attempted on August 23, there is a backup window on the next day (August 24).
    • If neither of these windows is feasible, Chandrayaan-3 would need to wait for about 29 days until the lunar day and night cycle completes.
  • Luna 25’s Flexibility:
    • Luna 25 does not face the same limitations as Chandrayaan-3.
    • Its instruments have a longer lifespan, and it is equipped to function during the lunar night as well.
    • This flexibility allows Luna 25 more freedom in choosing its landing date, as its operational capabilities are not solely dependent on sunlight availability.

“South Pole” of the Moon

  • The Indian and Russian missions, Chandrayaan-3 and Luna 25, respectively, are both aiming to land near the “South Pole” of the Moon.
  • However, their landing sites are not exactly at the polar region but are still much farther south than previous Moon landings, which have occurred in the equatorial region.
  • The selected landing site for Chandrayaan-3 is at approximately 68 degrees South latitude, while Luna 25’s landing site is closer to 70 degrees South latitude.
  • This means that they are located a few degrees apart from each other in terms of latitude on the lunar surface.
    • The actual distance between the landing sites of Chandrayaan-3 and Luna 25 could be several hundred kilometres on the Moon.
  • The decision to explore the lunar polar region is motivated by the potential presence of frozen water in these areas.
  • The Polar Regions receive less direct sunlight compared to the equatorial regions, making them suitable candidates for the accumulation of water ice in permanently shadowed areas.

RBI’s new guidelines for lenders

(General Studies- Paper III)

Source : The Indian Express

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has issued guidelines directing lenders to impose penalties for borrower defaults as “penal charges” rather than “penal interest.”

  • The move aims to ensure fair lending practices and prevent discriminatory actions.

Key Highlights

  • Reasonable and Commensurate Charges
    • Lenders should apply penal charges that are reasonable and in proportion to the non-compliance of the loan contract.
    • The guidelines prevent lenders from imposing discriminatory charges within specific loan/product categories.

Background and Purpose

  • The RBI noticed regulated entities (REs) levying penal rates of interest over applicable rates in cases of borrower defaults or non-compliance with loan terms.
  • The central bank’s guidelines aim to establish a clear framework for penal charges in loan accounts.

Note: A penal charge is an additional fee levied on borrowers for delayed equated monthly installments (EMIs) or non-compliance with payment contracts.

  • No Capitalization of Penal Charges
    • Penal charges should not lead to the capitalization of further interest.
    • Normal interest compounding procedures will remain unaffected.
  • Applicability and Exemptions
    • The guidelines are applicable to banks, including small finance banks and regional rural banks.
    • They exclude payments banks, non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), housing finance companies, and other specified institutions.
    • The guidelines will not apply to credit cards, external commercial borrowings, trade credits, and structured obligations covered under specific directions.
  • Consumer Protection Measures
    • Penal charges for individual borrowers (non-business purposes) cannot exceed those for non-individual borrowers facing similar non-compliance.
    • REs must clearly disclose penal charges and reasons in loan agreements, terms, and conditions/Key Fact Statement.
    • Communication of applicable charges and reasons must accompany reminders for non-compliance.
  • Implementation Timeline
    • The new instructions will take effect from January 1, 2024.
    • REs must revise their policy frameworks and implement the instructions for fresh loans availed or renewed from that date.
    • For existing loans, transition to the new penal charges regime will occur on the next review or renewal date or within six months of the effective date of the circular.